For the first time, the Maine People’s Alliance, a statewide progressive advocacy group, has made endorsements in Portland’s contested City Council races. In the high-profile contest for an at-large council seat, MPA members chose to endorse school board member Pious Ali over incumbent Jon Hinck.
“While we all liked Pious for lots of reasons — not the least of which is who he is and the unique (for the council) perspective he has to offer — I was really struck by his sense of morality and ethics and his willingness to discuss what that means to him. If anyone has the potential to remain above the fray of the pettiness of local politics, I believe it is Pious,” said Maria Testa, chair of the Portland MPA Campaign Vote! committee.
Ali, who moved to Maine in 2002 and is originally from Ghana, became the first African-born Muslim elected to Portland’s school board in 2013.
MPA members also noted Ali’s close alignment with MPA’s values and his endorsement by all eight other members of the school board.
While Hinck has a long and mostly-progressive record of public service, especially on environmental issues, his recent votes against emergency General Assistance aid for asylum seekers and in favor of rolling back an increase in the subminimum wage for service workers who receive tips weighed heavily against him.
Testa noted that those positions “do not align with our values.”
Raising the minimum wage to one fair rate for all workers is a core issue for MPA and volunteers were working hard to gather signatures to place a related measure on the statewide ballot at the same time that Hinck was leading opposition to raising the subminimum wage in Portland.